Critics of a natural gas station off Long Beach gathered in Manhattan Monday to put a bull's-eye on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, saying they'll pressure him to kill the project by using the tactics that defeated fracking in the state last year.
Outside City Hall, more than 50 people representing a dozen groups vowed to "bird dog" Cuomo with "speed dial" calls to his office, petitions and rallies against the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas transfer station.
They plan to show up at his Harvard Club appearance in April, bus activists to his Albany office in a few weeks and deliver petitions to his Manhattan office this week. College students across the state have already begun calling him up, urging him to veto.
"He can get it right once again," said Donovan Richards, head of the City Council's environmental committee, which holds a hearing on the plan April 1. "We must divorce our love from fossil fuel and move to 100 percent renewable energy."
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said superstorm Sandy victims in the Rockaways have yet to recover: "How in good conscience can we build a facility that will poison our waters and potentially harm our people when the Rockaways still need so much?"
One nay by Cuomo or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would kill the project because part of it falls in state waters. "We are reviewing the proposal," a Cuomo spokeswoman said.
The gathering signifies a ramped-up fight as Port Ambrose moves into the final review by federal officials, whose draft environmental statement reported little lasting damage in putting the port 19 miles off Long Beach. Monday was the last day of the public comment period, and a letter to the governors was being sent, endorsed by more than 200 environmental groups in 24 states.
Under the plan, specially designed vessels would bring liquefied natural gas from the Caribbean to a floating system of buoys and buried pipes. Re-gasified on board, the fuel would go into pipes hooked up to existing pipelines serving Long Island and New York City.
The plan has been a lightning rod not just for local residents but also for wind farm activists, climate change and anti-fracking coalitions and those who fear terrorists will use the port to set off explosions.
Roger Whelan, head of the Liberty Natural Gas, which proposed the project, said 100 business and fishing groups and power producers support the plan, which would bring $20 million annually in jobs.
"Port Ambrose is needed, safe and will reduce energy costs for New York consumers," he said in a statement.
Still, lawmakers from Long Beach to Garden City have written to Cuomo or are gathering colleagues' signatures for a veto.
At City Hall, critic Kevin O'Keeffe of East Meadow said he has passed out leaflets and once considered victory an "impossible task": "We've made unbelievable progress. My fingers are crossed."